Tips for Effective Patient Communication Before and After Appointments

July 9, 2020 Karen Axelton

 

lighthouse 360

 

Nearly 90% of dental offices are now open for elective treatment, according to the ADA. But a visit to the dentist looks much different than in pre-pandemic times. Both before and after dental appointments, patient communication is more important than ever to inform patients what to expect when they arrive at the office, what you’re doing to protect their health, and what to do after their appointments. The following guidelines will help ensure smooth communication and a smoothly running office.

Setting appointments

Contact patients whose appointments were cancelled because your office shut down and reschedule their appointments. Lighthouse 360 makes this easy by enabling two-way texting with patients right from your PMS, so your staff doesn’t need a mobile device.

For patients who didn’t have a scheduled appointment before your COVID-19 shutdown, activate automated recall messaging—ideally, at least 2 weeks before you reopen. Use Lighthouse 360’s Recall feature to efficiently reach every patient by automatically contacting those who are due for hygiene appointments.

If patients don’t respond to recall messaging, try using a different mode of communication. Lighthouse 360 gives you the option to text, email, call or even write a letter to patients; one of those methods is sure to connect. 

Pre-appointment communication

Pre-screening: Revise the email and text message templates within your PRM so your team can easily send updated reminder messaging. Reminders should list symptoms of COVID-19 and ask patients to contact you and reschedule their appointment if they have COVID-19 or any symptoms. Let patients know you won’t charge late cancellation fees in this situation.

Also update your appointment reminder templates to add links to any new forms, such as consent forms or health screening forms, that patients must complete prior to appointments. Henry Schein has several scripts you can use as templates to communicate with patients, whether by text, email or phone, about health screening procedures and other protocols you’ve introduced to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In-office procedure: Explain what patients can expect when visiting the dentist, such as whether they’ll need to wait in their cars, wear a mask or have their temperature taken. Lighthouse 360 lets you create a virtual waiting room experience to minimize patient time in the office and enhance protections for patients. For instance, new patients can use Lighthouse 360’s Patient FastTrack feature to complete and sign registration forms on their phones.

Payment options: Patients who have been laid off may have lost their dental insurance. Inform patients about any in-house dental payment plans, dental discount plans or dental savings plans you offer, such as DentalPlans.com. Also alert them of new payment methods you are offering, such as contactless payments or online payment, to help patients get out of the office faster.

After the appointment

Check in with patients a few days after their appointments to see if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or body aches. If they don’t, remind them to contact your office within 14 days if any symptoms develop so you can alert other patients and staff who may have been exposed. Lighthouse 360 can automate post-appointment messaging so you never forget to follow up with a patient.

Communicate online

Patients who are working remotely at home are likely to be spending more time online, so use your online presence to communicate, too. Update your website, use email marketing, and ramp up your social media activity to alert patients you’re reopening, explain new procedures, and tell them what to expect when they arrive at the office. Lighthouse 360 can help with all of these methods of marketing your practice.

 

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